Germans want to know why Trump hates them so much

by Cathrin Schaer / 28 July, 2018
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Donald Trump at the Nato Summit in Belgium. Photo/Getty Images

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Donald Trump at the Nato Summit in Belgium. Photo/Getty Images

RelatedArticlesModule - German Donald Trump

At the Nato summit, US President Donald Trump kicked things off with an outraged rant about Germany.

Germany is a terrible place, overrun by violent, criminal migrants who molest local ladies; a defenceless nation in thrall to gas-smuggling Russian overlords. In fact, Germans themselves “are bad, very bad”, they sell too many Mercedes and are “turning against their leadership” in droves. Well, yes. That’s if you believe all that US President Donald Trump has to say.

It is true that there are objectionable things about living in Germany – no ocean for miles, a vicious and inefficient bureaucracy (never a good combination), and salads made out of sausage meat with a creamy dressing. But none of those are the unpleasantries the US President describes.

Still, Trump likes to talk dirty about Germany – a lot. At the July Nato conference, ostensibly a meeting of allies, “der orangen pussy grabber”, as he is occasionally referred to here, shocked participants by kicking things off with an outraged rant about Deutschland. But maybe we shouldn’t be shocked. Europe’s largest economy has been one of Trump’s favourite targets for a while.

When he arrived in Berlin this June, his new ambassador to Germany got into it, too. Richard Grenell gave an interview saying he’d be happy to “empower” any conservative political elements who might like to overthrow the Government. Not exactly diplomatic.

All this harassment has left many Germans asking: why does Trump hate us so much? We thought we were friends. Remember how good we were together during the Cold War, Donald?

One website speculated that it could be as simple as a dislike of strong, smart women. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stood up to him in her own disconcerting, low-key way. She was also good pals with Barack Obama back in the day, another person Trump isn’t fond of.

Or it could be that he’s jealous: surveys of German voters consistently show that only about 10% of them have confidence in Trump. At the same time, more than half of US voters like Merkel.

Or maybe it’s because Trump’s family originally emigrated from Germany. Or because he really does think Germany is playing the US for a sucker, getting rich off international trade and then expecting Americans to protect it while not paying enough towards its own defence. Actually, on this point, many Germans agree.

On the other hand, what a country spends money on can come down to other factors. Germany spends much more on foreign aid than the US as a percentage of GDP. Because of the country’s history, that’s just the non-militarised, peace-building way Germans like to roll.

It could all be part of Trump’s cunning plan to break up an increasingly shaky European Union. “The single biggest point of leverage the EU has in global trade talks is its ability to control access to the European single market,” writes Ian Kearns, a former think-tank director, in his recently released book, Collapse: Europe after the European Union. “If that market no longer exists, even large European countries like Germany will find themselves, not at the dinner table of trade talks, but effectively on the menu. China and the US will run the show.”

Der Spiegel magazine suggested, in a cover story on the subject, “Perhaps it’s the mixture of economic strength, military restraint and moral hubris in Germany that makes Berlin the subject of Trump’s loathing,” Or perhaps it’s because Americans think we’re all socialists and they don’t like that. Or, hang on, perhaps it’s just because Donald Trump is a dick who can’t spell. I’m going with that one.

Cathrin Schaer is editor-in-chief of Iraqi news website Niqash.org, based in Berlin.

This article was first published in the August 4, 2018 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

Latest

The weight-loss industry is trying to rebrand itself as the 'wellness' industry
98751 2018-11-15 00:00:00Z Nutrition

The weight-loss industry is trying to rebrand itse…

by Jennifer Bowden

As dieting is exposed as the lie that it is, the weight-loss industry is unravelling.

Read more
Best of Wellington: What to do in the capital
98651 2018-11-15 00:00:00Z Travel

Best of Wellington: What to do in the capital

by Metro

A round-up of great things to do in Wellington, plus where to experience the best of capital culture and tips on where to stay.

Read more
Douglas Wright: 1956-2018
58688 2018-11-15 00:00:00Z Listener NZ 2004

Douglas Wright: 1956-2018

by David Eggleton

The celebrated NZ choreographer has died after a long illness. David Eggleton describes the path of Wright’s creative life from Tuakau to New York.

Read more
Irish music star Damien Dempsey's spiritual connection with Aotearoa
99078 2018-11-14 14:27:13Z Music

Irish music star Damien Dempsey's spiritual connec…

by James Belfield

Damien Dempsey’s music recounts Ireland’s traumatic history, but it resonates half a world away in New Zealand.

Read more
Andrew Little announces decision to re-enter Pike River Mine
99051 2018-11-14 07:16:04Z Planet

Andrew Little announces decision to re-enter Pike …

by RNZ

Andrew Little says the plan to enter the drift at Pike River, using the existing access tunnel, was by far the safest option.

Read more
The NZ armed forces' toxic culture of impunity and cover-ups revealed
98957 2018-11-14 00:00:00Z Crime

The NZ armed forces' toxic culture of impunity and…

by Nicky Hager

Is a defence force that regularly covers up and denies wrongdoings among its ranks – from war crimes to drunkenness – operating above the law?

Read more
How Kiwi Anthony McCarten wrote the Queen movie Bohemian Rhapsody
98989 2018-11-14 00:00:00Z Movies

How Kiwi Anthony McCarten wrote the Queen movie Bo…

by Russell Baillie

New Zealand screenwriter Anthony McCarten talks about Bohemian Rhapsody, his second big film of 2018 after the Churchill drama Darkest Hour.

Read more
Excavated cult-horror film Suspiria is an ambitious failure
98994 2018-11-14 00:00:00Z Movies

Excavated cult-horror film Suspiria is an ambitiou…

by James Robins

Released in 1977, Dario Argento’s campy Suspiria was a landmark in cult horror. Now, director Luca Guadagnino has remade it in a new style.

Read more